Accountable or Responsible

What we don’t let go, we carry as a burden. A few weeks back, I was at cross roads of my career, especially that as a leader. While a couple of seductive options (materially) laid bare before me, it was a painstaking to take a call on the way forward. One evening on my regular journey in the e-World, I chanced about my favorite  “The Fable of the Bridge” by Rabbi Friedman that threw gave me a whole lot of lessons as well as direction to the path I should take. (Received via Yahoo group mail – yes it was very popular those days) Read on…. (reproducing it for the benefit of those who haven’t read it before)

It is a moonlit night and alone in his thoughts he starts crossing a bridge. The man sees out of the corner of his eye a stranger dressed much like himself coming towards him. He thinks the man approaching is putting his hand out to greet him. However, the stranger has the end of a rope in his hand with the other end entwined around him.

The stranger asks the man to hold the end of the rope. Whilst perplexed the man complies.

The stranger asks the man to hold on tight with two hands and then promptly jumps off the bridge toward the swift running deep river below. “Hold on” the stranger cries. The free-falling body hurtled the distance of the rope’s length, and from the bridge the man abruptly felt the pull. He held tight despite being almost pulled over the side of the bridge.

Peering down at the stranger who was close to oblivion, the man yelled, “What are you trying to do?”

“Just hold tight,” said the other.

The man tried to haul the stranger in but he could not. He could not get enough leverage. His strength was almost perfectly counterbalanced by the other man’s weight.

“Why did you do this?” the man called out. “Remember,” said the other, “if you let go, I will be lost.” “But I cannot pull you up,” the man cried. “I am your responsibility,” said the other. “Well, I did not ask for it,” the man said. “If you let go, I am lost,” repeated the other.

The man looked around for help, tried to invent solutions but could not think of any that would work. He waited for someone to come and help pull the stranger up, but no one came. Fearing that his arms could not hold out much longer, he tied the rope around his waist.

“Why did you do this?” he asked again. “Don’t you see what you have done? What possible purpose could you have had in mind?” “Just remember,” said the other, “my life is in your hands.”

Time passed and a decision needed to be made. The man could not hold on much longer.

A thought occurred to him. If the stranger hauled himself up and he kept the end steady and pulled a bit, together they could get the stranger back to safety. But the other wasn’t interested.

“You mean you won’t help? But I told you I cannot pull you up myself, and I don’t think I can hang on much longer either.” “You must try,” the other shouted back in tears. “If you fail, I die.” The point of decision arrived. The man said to the other, “Listen to me. I will not accept the position of choice for your life, only for my own; the position of choice for your own life, I hereby give back to you.”

“What do you mean?” the other asked, afraid. “I mean, simply, it’s up to you. You decide which way this ends. I will help you if you help yourself.”

“You cannot mean what you say,” the other shrieked. “You would not be so selfish. I am your responsibility. What could be so important that you would let someone die? Do not do this to me.”

He waited a moment. There was no change i the tension of the rope. “I accept your choice,” the man said, at last, and freed his hands.

This was the Eureka Moment for me too. I was clinging on to something that I should have let go. There was no way I could lead or help others by doing things for them. I realized that while I am accountable for others, I was not responsible for them.

unlocking-power-accountability-employees

Definitely it was not for me to be tied up like this man in the fable to others’ needs and happiness alone. It was about choices and not perfection of the solutions. I had to take a call and make my choice. It wasn’t easy to let go of something that was a passion for many months – a shared passion with the team. And Lo!

I found the solution again. What was I clinging on to? Was in a role – did the best and move on.

A man was running for his life to escape a hungry tiger.
He came to the edge of a cliff, stepped over and held onto a vine. The tiger couldn’t reach him, but there was no way up again.
Looking down he saw another tiger at the bottom waiting for him to let go and fall.
A rat appeared and began gnawing at the vine.
The man noticed a strawberry growing on the face of the cliff.
He held the vine with one hand and with the other grabbed the strawberry and ate it. How sweet it tasted!

The choices that were offered by life was too sweet to be missed anymore. Decision was clear and action too – I MOVED ON. No sense of doership or ownership, just like the flowing water below the bridge. Instruments in place for carrying out the bidding of the Divine. Enjoyed the journey, met a lot of co-passengers – most of them friends for life.

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Illuminating our Path – Happy Birthday Divya

I never got why people always equate something precious and dear to the “Eye” like Apple of my Eye, Kanmani,  etc. Well! it was true until recently when I realized that I had something dearer than that decorating our lives.

She has magic in her eyes and more than anything she has the ultimate love & trust for the world. If you cannot accept that this is a beautiful world, see it through her eyes to realize it.

From the time when she was presented before us for the first time after her birth – I vividly remember the glance she gave and looked around. From the one who required care then, to someone who cares, this young lady has come a very long way in these 24 years.

Proud of those moments when she worked with disadvantaged children, differently abled children and her tremendous efforts at mainstreaming them through dance. An epitome of Nishkama Karma – never did anything for laurels, but it came by nevertheless.

Thank you Divine, for this wonderful gift – Akhila a.k.a. Divya – who has been more a friend than a daughter. Don’t go by her frail (but healthy) looks – she has a strong shoulder that many of us can really lean on for strength.  There was a time when I had to explain whatever you meant to us and wish on your Birthday. Gladly you have turned into a young lady and it is only appropriate that I write to you directly now.

Dearest Di

Me and Amma were go through the pictures of you growing up and realized how the time just flew past.  What is admirable is the persistence and never say die attitude. Learnt to take the punches that life threw at you on the chin and move on (after taking it head on). Whether you had these recognition coming your way or not… I would love you no less and you would continue to mean as much – but the icing on the cake is when glory came your way. A proud father’s tears of joy reliving those moments is inexplicable.

Knowing that the world is amazing but a challenging playground,  going by the journey so far, I am very confident that you would savor, steer, enjoy and live every moment. You also have taught many of us to live each day with a sense of gratitude due to which Life has honored us back. While you may not need it anymore than how much I need yours, rest assured that we will walk along with you all the way.

This would be incomplete if I don’t share some glorious moments when you brought everyone cheers and happiness – Proud moments so far and I am sure this is just the beginning. I am sure there are many more to be picked up on the way.

As I always told everyone, there is something special about you, and no parents could be no less prouder than us with whatever you ARE! I know you have a lot more to offer to this world. And as you do that, like a torch bearer in any procession, let me tell you “You illuminate our paths”. That is a huge huge thing for someone your age to do.

I still remember your conviction when you said, we will continue to help people in need notwithstanding whatever trouble some people create – If we back down, it is a victory for them. This world cannot be defeated by a few naysayers!

You are very true there, darling. Go and conquer the world, make it yours and spread the fragrance of happiness. In your little ways, you have touched not just the immediate family but so many countless number of underprivileged children and elders too. A speed breaker of life did not deter from pursuing what you thought was the right thing to do.

Loads and loads of love

Not sure if it is required anymore! But go ahead and aim for the skies in the firm belief that you will not be afraid to fall. Not just us, all those whose lives has been touched by you will be there, not to let you fall.

Have a great birthday and wish you countless more to come! Stay blessed and Keep smiling!

 

Working to make it Work!

As we complete 26 years of this blissful journey of togetherness – a journey that we began as 23 year olds, with joy in our heart and hopes in our minds, someone asked me why I write (by now the customary) blogs acknowledging her gracious (for me grateful) presence. I have so many reasons to do that.

Definitely not for this!!!

Firstly, I got to acknowledge that she deserves much more than whatever even the best of my words and language that I possess can ever express and secondly, considering the alternative – a Card – Sorry! that would be a pathetic replacement to what I want to really say (also there is not enough space on it to write these or for photographs). This is also done to let the world know that this journey is possible even in these days. Finally, I also write to remind some folks who would have forgotten that it is a special day for us, to wish and bless us to continue this journey into eternity.

“Only spiritual elevation can take away loneliness, not soul mates” said, Founder of Art of Living and our Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. Yet He blessed us all along to make it easy for me to elevate myself spiritually taking away my loneliness but also ensured that soul mate made it even more easier.

Those who know us would congratulate me, but they would agree and credit Aparna for this wonderful journey – that could well be an example of what & how it is supposed to be – Woman who is fixed, robust and capable of restoring any fallen ones around her. Someone who with lot of sacrifice, unknown to all of us, ensured that “Life is a celebration” not just for the immediately family but to the extended family (Let me assure you that it is definitely not a small one). This was evident just 2 days ago, on the Ugadi day – Painstakingly prepared fares, everything home made with a touch of love (that can never come when eating out) – egging us to do this or do that to ensure that guests simply feel WOW and want more! This has been the feature everyday of the 26 years that Aparna has embellished my life.

I am sure children wouldn’t disagree that life, without her constant but extremely caring and loving nagging, would never been the same. How much ever they are grown, they are still the 1-5 year olds in her eyes and thoughts. Without being overbearing, her care is simply overpowering. Same with her colleagues at work. I am yet to hear someone saying anything “not good” about this wonderful soul, who took up the huge challenge to live with me for 26 long years, bearing all my idiosyncracies (especially when it comes to food) and still working to continue this journey into eternity.

Then we have the extended family – Sindhu, Swathi, Iti, Asha, Meghana, Arun, Raghu, Yathin, Vidya, Giri, Binoy, Nagesh, Leela, Parinith, Rijina and this list goes on… who also bear the brunt of her love and care.

Sindhu, Vishnu, Aparna, Swati, Me, Iti and Divya On Ugadi Day
Vidya, Vishnu, Aparna, Me, Yathin, Giri and Divya On Ugadi Day

For those who want to know how it works! This journey comes with lots of ups and downs. My confession upfront! It is definitely she who goes more than half way to make it work. It is more “up” for her than me. It is more down for me than her. So all credits to her there! There are many things that we may not see eye to eye, that keeps cropping up again and again. We chose to work around those differences, accept those differences and lived with them. After a couple of years, we both gave up our attempts to change the other (though we haven’t stopped trying, we don’t insist that the other person changes to meet our expectations). This concept of marriage is what amazed our friends from Germany (Ulrich, Steffen, Tobias and many others) who worked in our office (Crompton Greaves Limited) as interns, during the initial years of our marriage. I had only one thing to tell them – In India, we don’t change our spouses – we change ourselves. Not so easy but we grow up seeing our parents making extreme degree of surrender of one’s compromisable principles, mindset and also beliefs to keep a marriage going and keep it blissful. I added, “We got to work to make it Work

A few months later in a contemplative mood, she asked how is it that our relationship of absolute opposite working – we only looked at each other, grinned and then picked up another argument to keep this relationship firing. It got to be a miracle. Did we believe in miracle? No! We don’t just believe, we rely on it (as Sri Sri spoke during one of His discourse). Our journey is a living example. And I would be claiming false credit if I say it is because of me. Thanks my Dear! For making all those philosophy work in our case.

Happy Anniversary, dearest Aparna. You are simply the best. As I wrote in one of the earlier pieces, “You Complete Me”

Loads and Loads of love!

Decided to gift ourselves a Pilgrimage Trip to Tirupati to express our gratitude to the Lord for this amazing present. Sharing some pictures of the journey so far

A friend whom we met exactly 2 months ago in same place
Lady of the Day!
Kanipakkam Vinayaka Temple
Kanipakkam Vinayaka Temple
Kanipakkam Vinayaka Temple
Kanipakkam Vinayaka Temple
Kanipakkam Vinayaka Temple
Our Meal 🙂

Srinivasa Mangapuram
Srinivasa Mangapuram
Kapaleshwara Temple, Tirupati

Signing of as always with a song chosen just for you